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Chesapeake bus drivers ratify new contract

CHESAPEAKE — By a vote of 12 to 2, Chesapeake school bus drivers have ratified a new three-year contract that was the result of a three-hour negotiating session between the school board and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) Local 275.

The vote was Tuesday afternoon following talks on Dec. 13.

The local represents the drivers who had been working without a contract since Oct. 4.

Disputed issues focused on longevity pay and the right to grieve extra trips.

Before this contract, drivers had only six different incremental pay steps as opposed to teachers who have around 17 steps.

“The bus drivers were adamant about recognition for seniority,” said Karen Bailey, OAPSE field representative.

In this agreement, an additional step for seniority of seven to 15 years was added during the first year of the contract. A pay step for seniority of 15 years plus will be added during the second year of the contract.

A pay step for those with seniority 25 years and over will be placed during the third contract

year.

Also there were wage increases to occur over the three years. During the first year drivers will get a 55-cent-an hour increase to be retroactive to Oct. 5; the second year will be an increase of 45-cents-an hour and in the third year drivers will get a 40-cent-an hour increase.

As far as the right to grieve extra trips, the union was unsuccessful at removing language from the contract that would allow for the grieving of trips. However, language was added that the superintendent is committed to work out all issues as regards transportation, according to the OAPSE field rep.

“He has been proved true to his word as far as dealing with transportation issues so far,” Bailey said. “The drivers were willing to take him at face value. He has not disappointed them at all in issues they have brought to

him so far.”

Right to grieve and longevity pay were the sticking points between the union and the school board. To arbitrate between the two sides a federal mediator, Earl Leonhardt from Cincinnati, was called in.

A third issue, not in dispute, increased drivers’ hourly rate for extra trips from the current rate of $7.50 an hour to $11 an hour.

Superintendent Scott Howard and school board consultant Robert W. Cross represented the school board. The union negotiating team was made up of Bailey, Joe Waugh, Mark Pemberton, David Ridenour and Ron White, union president.

A call made late Friday morning to Superintendent Howard was not returned by press time.